March 18, 2022

Phish: new archival release Memphis '99

Another archival Phish release is available for streaming and download: 09/29/99 Pyramid Arena, Memphis, TN:

On September 29, 1999, Phish played their only show at The Pyramid Arena in Memphis, TN. The Memphis Pyramid aka The Great American Pyramid is a unique and mysterious 32-story venue modeled after Giza in Egypt, opened in 1991 and used for sports and entertainment until 2004. It now houses a megastore that includes America’s tallest free standing elevator to the apex. Memphis ’99 was the 16th show on a 24-show fall tour that stretched from Vancouver to Albany. Tickets cost $25 and were still available at showtime on a Wednesday night.

The band treated The Pyramid faithful to a deep but playful show full of fun twists and crowd interplay. It was the eve of Trey’s birthday and fans had shared a flyer about singing Happy Birthday when the show started. This happened before the Runaway Jim > Free opener quickly lit up the place. Taste and Stash, with an I Can’t Turn You Loose (Memphis Horns) ending, further elevated the proceedings and led to the Contest Announcement and another Happy Birthday for Trey. He and Page explained that the first person to visit the WaterWheel table and answer what all the songs in the set (except Driver) had in common would win four tickets and backstage passes to any show that year, including New Year’s which was already announced. With everybody scrambling to solve the puzzle, the show and contest continued with Theme From The Bottom > Tweezer Reprise.

The answer was that all the songs were in the key of D, and Brad Sands announced two winners during setbreak. Gotta Jibboo > 2001 > Down With Disease opened set II with 45 minutes of non-stop Peak Phish. 2001’s experimental alien-groove activated The Pyramid’s energy with swirling synth and effects. A funky Mike’s Groove sustained the dance party with stop-on-a-dime segues connecting Mike’s Song > Catapult > Mike’s > Kung > Mike’s > I Didn’t Know > Weekapaug Groove to end the set. Trey embellished the Cities encore with alternate lyrics home of Elvis and Rendezvous BBQ, wrapping up another unforgettable night in Memphish.

Setlist and notes from

SET 1: Runaway Jim > Free, Driver, Taste, Dirt, Nellie Kane, Stash, Theme From the Bottom > Tweezer Reprise

SET 2: Gotta Jibboo > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease, Billy Breathes, Back on the Train, Mike's Song > Catapult > Mike's Song > Kung > Mike's Song > I Didn't Know, Weekapaug Groove

ENCORE: Cities

[1] Altered lyrics.
Stash ended with a full band I Can’t Turn You Loose tease. After Stash, Trey announced a contest where the winner would receive four tickets and backstage passes to any show in the next year and, jokingly, a date with Fish. The question centered on what all of the songs played in the first set, with the exception of Driver, had in common. The answer was that all songs were in the Key of D. Happy Birthday was also played (for Trey) during the contest announcement. Cities was an appropriate choice as an encore for Memphis, and Trey altered the lyrics a bit for the occasion.


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